Handcyclist on 3,000km, Kingdom-wide trip for people with disabilities arrives in Riyadh

Handcyclist on 3,000km, Kingdom-wide trip for people with disabilities arrives in Riyadh
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Handcyclist Matteo Parsani has reached Riyadh, his first stop on a 30-day, 3,000-km trip across the Kingdom to create awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. (Supplied)
Handcyclist on 3,000km, Kingdom-wide trip for people with disabilities arrives in Riyadh
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Handcyclist Matteo Parsani has reached Riyadh, his first stop on a 30-day, 3,000-km trip across the Kingdom to create awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 December 2023
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Handcyclist on 3,000km, Kingdom-wide trip for people with disabilities arrives in Riyadh

Handcyclist on 3,000km, Kingdom-wide trip for people with disabilities arrives in Riyadh
  • KAUST academic Matteo Parsani lost his legs in road accident 6 years ago
  • Journey ‘Athar — East to West’ began on Dec. 17 and will end on Jan. 17

RIYADH: Handcyclist Matteo Parsani has reached Riyadh, his first stop on a 30-day, 3,000-km trip across the Kingdom to create awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities.
Parsani, an associate professor of applied mathematics and computational science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology — who lost the use of his legs six years ago after a road accident — began his journey “Athar — East to West” on Dec. 17.
The academic, who covers about 150 km a day, will now cycle to Qassim, Hail, AlUla, Red Sea Global, Madinah, Makkah and Jeddah, and finish at KAUST on Jan. 17.
Arab News spoke with Parsani at the offices of the Authority for People with Disabilities, a government agency tasked with empowerment and capacity building.
“The difficulties began the night before the trip started, when I had trouble falling asleep. I thought I was taking a test. I woke up in the morning with a stomachache and a ton of ideas running through my head, so I decided not to do it. I’ll put it off for one day. I warmed up after that and managed to complete a few kilometers,” Parsani said.
He added: “That morning was chilly. The first day went smoothly, and the second day got off to a great start until a huge traffic accident forced us to pull over for three to four hours. And so, on the evening of the second day, I cycled, and as you can imagine, the traffic was absolutely insane, with a number of trucks beginning to move. It was scary in a way that the dark carried trucks that were passing by close to you.”
On his third day before reaching Riyadh, Parsani came across another car accident, that occurred five meters in front of them.
Parsani said the APD, which has backed him from the beginning, held a welcome event for people with disabilities at the agency. Those in attendance had a great time trying out Parsani’s handcycle.
“The APD was the first government agency I contacted to inquire about their interest in helping me with my journey. They have been supportive from the beginning, and today they had this lovely occasion. It’s the end of that portion of the journey, in my opinion, but this is just the start of something much, much, much bigger.”
One of the attendees at the event, Nouf Al-Jalal, who is a consultant on accessibility for individuals with disabilities, said the community appreciates Parsani’s efforts.
“I had the chance to try the handcycle for the first time, and it was such a lovely experience. This is such an amazing event.”
The APD will distribute 50 handcycles to various groups in the cities Parsani will pass through so that locals can join in the fun.
Parsani has three cameras that are livestreaming his trip via YouTube.


Scheme to ‘humanize’ pilgrim services during Hajj season

Scheme focuses on taking care of the sick, the elderly, and people with disabilities who are visiting the two holy mosques.
Scheme focuses on taking care of the sick, the elderly, and people with disabilities who are visiting the two holy mosques.
Updated 20 May 2024
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Scheme to ‘humanize’ pilgrim services during Hajj season

Scheme focuses on taking care of the sick, the elderly, and people with disabilities who are visiting the two holy mosques.
  • Scheme focuses on taking care of the sick, the elderly, and people with disabilities who are visiting the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque

RIYADH: The Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque recently launched the Humanitarians (Ensaniyoun) initiative as part of the 2024 Hajj season, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The scheme aims to enrich the experience of pilgrims by humanizing the services provided by the presidency. It focuses on taking care of the sick, the elderly, and people with disabilities who are visiting the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, creating an appropriate worship environment for them.

Sheikh Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of Religious Affairs at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, said: “The Humanitarians initiative aims to enhance behavior and humanize the services provided by the presidency across its various sectors and departments ... creating an appropriate worship environment for pilgrims, and facilitating their access to religious services without effort or hardship.”

The initiative encourages specialization among employees and the use of flexible technology and digitization to meet religious needs, Al-Sudais said.

He added: “This commitment to humanitarian responsibility, amid the extensive religious work in the Two Holy Mosques and their global outreach, reflects the belief that balanced institutional giving leads to human and global success stories. By maintaining this balance, we achieve success in the rituals of Hajj and in serving pilgrims.”

The Humanitarians initiative aligns with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by enhancing the religious and humanitarian services provided to pilgrims.


Saudi Reef program provides $37.3m of support to Kingdom’s honey industry

Saudi Reef program provides $37.3m of support to Kingdom’s honey industry
Updated 48 min 27 sec ago
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Saudi Reef program provides $37.3m of support to Kingdom’s honey industry

Saudi Reef program provides $37.3m of support to Kingdom’s honey industry
  • Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program celebrates World Bee Day by highlighting its achievements in its support of the sector
  • Honey production in the Kingdom reached 3,120 tons last year; aim is to produce 7,500 tons a year by 2026 and become self-sufficient

RIYADH: About SR140 million ($37.3 million) in funding for the honey industry in the Kingdom has helped 10,584 beneficiaries since 2020, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The recipients of the support, provided by Saudi Arabia’s Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program, also known as Saudi Reef, come from all parts of the country but the program said those in Asir, Hail, Makkah and Al-Baha regions benefited the most.
Saudi Reef marked World Bee Day on Monday by highlighting its notable achievements so far in supporting the local honey industry. It said production in the Kingdom reached 3,120 tons in 2023, a 41 percent increase compared with 2021, and the aim is to increase annual production to 7,500 tons by 2026 and achieve self-sufficiency.
The program said it has supported several projects vital to the sector, including the establishment of queen bee rearing and package bee production facilities in areas such as Hail, Najran, Jazan, Medina, Tabuk and Taif.
It also supplies modern beekeeping tools and spreads awareness of the latest techniques, and has set up three mobile laboratories to investigate and diagnose bee diseases and pests, along with four mobile clinics.
The program said it remains committed to providing support for beekeepers and implementing projects that benefit the honey industry, in keeping with efforts to achieve sustainable and comprehensive development in the Kingdom.
Saudi Reef aims to support environmental sustainability and diversification of the agricultural production base in the Kingdom, by aiding the development of rural communities and efforts to achieve food security.
It added that its projects provide job opportunities, help improve incomes and standards of living for small farmers, and enhance agricultural capabilities in keeping with the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 development and diversification plan.


Japan, Saudi Arabia FMs agree to work closely

Japan, Saudi Arabia FMs agree to work closely
Updated 20 May 2024
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Japan, Saudi Arabia FMs agree to work closely

Japan, Saudi Arabia FMs agree to work closely
  • Prince Faisal said he was keen to collaborate with Tokyo
  • Kamikawa expressed her sincere wishes for the early recovery of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

TOKYO: Japan’s Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko said on Monday she hopes to work closely with Prince Faisal bin Farhan, her Saudi counterpart, on the multiple crises the world is currently facing, such as the situations in Gaza and Ukraine.
In a telephone call, Prince Faisal said he was keen to collaborate with Tokyo to allow the foreign minister to make an official visit to the Kingdom in the near future, and that he looks forward to working with Kamikawa toward stabilizing the situation in the region.
In response, Kamikawa expressed her sincere wishes for the early recovery of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and stated that Japan attaches great importance to its strategic partnership with the Kingdom and seeks to work closely with Prince Faisal.


Saudi Arabia restricts Umrah permits to Hajj permit holders

Starting May 24 until June 26, Umrah permits will only be issued to those with a confirmed Hajj permit. (@AlharamainSA)
Starting May 24 until June 26, Umrah permits will only be issued to those with a confirmed Hajj permit. (@AlharamainSA)
Updated 20 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia restricts Umrah permits to Hajj permit holders

Starting May 24 until June 26, Umrah permits will only be issued to those with a confirmed Hajj permit. (@AlharamainSA)
  • New regulation aims to manage influx during peak pilgrimage period from May 24 to June 26
  • The ministry stated that Umrah permits will not be issued to individuals without a confirmed Hajj permit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that starting May 24 until June 26, Umrah permits will only be issued to those with a confirmed Hajj permit.
The directive was issued by the ministry to facilitate Hajj pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia from around the world, ensuring their pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque in Makkah is conducted with ease and comfort.
The ministry stated that Umrah permits will not be issued to individuals without a confirmed Hajj permit.
This measure aims to manage the influx of pilgrims in the holy city during the busy Hajj season, ensuring a smooth experience for all pilgrims.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah posted on X: “Defying Hajj regulations will result in severe and unwavering penalties. A fine of SR10,000 ($2,666) will be imposed on individuals caught in Makkah and the holy sites without a Hajj permit, applicable to citizens, residents, and visitors. The fine will double for repeat offenders, and resident violators face deportation and a ban from entering Saudi Arabia.”


Earlier, the Ministry of Interior announced penalties for those who violated Hajj regulations and instructions, such as those found without a permit in Makkah, the central region, the holy sites, the Haramain train station in Rusayfah, security control centers, sorting centers, and temporary security control centers. These will be effective from June 2 to June 20.
Any citizens, residents or visitors caught within the specified restricted areas without a Hajj permit will be fined SR10,000. In addition, residents face deportation to their home country and a ban from entering the Kingdom for a stipulated period.


Emphasizing the importance of adherence to Hajj regulations and instructions, the ministry stressed that the fine would be doubled for repeat offenders.
Transporting individuals without a permit is a serious offense, with penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to SR50,000. The fine will increase proportionately with the number of people carried. The means of transportation will be seized and expatriate transporters will face deportation and a ban from re-entering the Kingdom for a specified period.
Members of the public are urged to report anyone breaking the rules by calling (911) in Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and (999) in the remaining regions.
One of the five pillars of Islam, this year’s Hajj is expected to run from June 14 to June 19.


Pilgrim mobility innovation contest concludes in Makkah

Pilgrim mobility innovation contest concludes in Makkah
Updated 20 May 2024
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Pilgrim mobility innovation contest concludes in Makkah

Pilgrim mobility innovation contest concludes in Makkah
  • Event aimed to enhance pilgrim services in innovative ways, focusing on assisting people with disabilities in completing Hajj rituals like Tawaf and Sa’i

RIYADH: The General Authority for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, along with Umm Al-Qura University and Wadi Makkah Co., recently concluded the pilgrim-mobility enhancement challenge at the university’s headquarters in Makkah.

The one-week event, which started on May 12, aimed to enhance pilgrim services in innovative ways, focusing on assisting people with disabilities in completing Hajj rituals like Tawaf and Sa’i.

It featured four categories: Manual wheelchairs, electric vehicles, golf carts and trailers, alongside an open section for creative mobility ideas.

With 50 teams and 190 participants, the challenge also involved 19 mentors, 10 judges and 118 mentoring sessions.

During the closing ceremony, attended by Umm Al-Qura University President Dr. Moaddi bin Mohammed Aal Madhhab, and the CEO of the general authority, Ghazi bin Dhafer Al-Shahrani, an exhibition showcased contributions and innovative ideas from organizing bodies and participating teams.

Dr. Ammar Attar, adviser to the general authority, highlighted the importance of forging quality partnerships, citing Umm Al-Qura University as a pioneer in Hajj and Umrah sciences and technologies. He lauded the joint initiative to enhance Tawaf and Sa’i mobility as a significant outcome of this collaboration.

Dr. Ali Al-Shaeri, CEO of Wadi Makkah Co., praised the challenge’s success and impact, highlighting its role in the university’s broader innovation program to enhance the pilgrim experience through effective partnership with the general authority.

Majed Al-Fuwaiz, secretary-general of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, applauded the challenge for fostering innovation to create a safe and appealing working environment meeting both local and international safety standards for those serving pilgrims.

The ceremony concluded with the honoring of the winners: Masari team claimed first place for their development of a smart path system for electric carts; Maseer team secured second place with AI-powered carts designed for ergonomic comfort; Naqiloon team earned third place for their Tawaf trailers tailored for specific location needs; Tarrayath team took fourth place for their sensor-based device safeguarding pilgrims in the Grand Mosque; and Mu’een team clinched fifth place with an app connecting pilgrims to cart drivers within the Two Holy Mosques.

Targeting postgraduate students, university students, faculty members, international students and entrepreneurs, the challenge aimed to enhance the mobility experience for Tawaf and Sa’i.

Participants delved deeper into the challenge through field visits and interactions with service providers, leading to the practical application of their ideas.